This year’s edition of FilMart will be the last for Distribution Workshop as a Hong Kong-based sales company. At the beginning of the month, the company announced plans to relocate to Taiwan from the beginning of April.
Virginia Leung, who currently heads sales will leave the company, which is controlled by Jeffrey Chan and Nansun Shi, and which has a minority investment from China’s Bona Film Group. Sales operations are to be restarted in Taipei, with June Wu, who also operates her own sales firm Ablaze Image, acting as a consultant and recruiting a new team.
The move was brought about by both the cost of operating from Hong Kong and by wider changes in the marketplace for film. Chan told Variety that the change was part of an evolution.
“We are having a reconception and a new focus,” said Chan. “When we started 10 years ago we only looked at the markets outside China, but now business is pouring into China.” That reflects a widely observed phenomenon that as Chinese cinema becomes more successful, its films are increasingly local and inward looking. That makes them harder to sell abroad. At the same time, film makers from outside China are clamoring for a piece of the huge and still expanding China box office.
For DW, the response is to control costs and increase the emphasis on production. Other reshuffling sees the establishment of Just Creative Studio as DW’s parent company, and production handled through A Really Good Film Company. DW’s local distribution activities will continue in both Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and accounting functions will continue to be based in Hong Kong.
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The company is close to unveiling at least one major co-production. But whether this gets announced during FilMart is dependent on the contractual status of the lead female talent.